Clause 51 — Period of entitlement to contributory allowance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 1:15 pm, 1st February 2012

Those figures were quoted extensively in our debate. Our view is simply this: we should not be taking large sums of money from people who are recovering from cancer or from a stroke, and who have been told throughout their lives that if they paid into the national insurance system, they would be able to get help when they needed it. That pledge needs to be honoured, even by this Government.

Let me turn to Lords amendment 15 and the question of the youth passport. It is astonishing that the spiteful policy towards disabled young people remained in the Bill for so long. It is even more astonishing to see the Minister now trying to ram it back in today, after the other place took it out. The current principle is that people who have been disabled since birth or childhood should be passported on to a contributory benefit. In Committee, the Minister described the principle as an “oddity”, but it has been well established since the 1970s and backed by Tory Ministers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Only now are this Government trying to scrap it. It provides an independent income for severely disabled people whose disability started before they had a chance to work. The Minister wants to deny them that. The principle that young people who are disabled from birth ought to be able to rely on a secure independent income might seem odd to him; to most people, it is simply right.

The Government’s impact assessment justifies this change, disgracefully, on the basis of simplifying the system.